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World Maritime Day 2020: Theme, Significance, History, And Quotes To Honor Sailors

World Maritime Day was first celebrated on March 17, 1978. It marked the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force, back in 1958.

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Avnika Saraf
Avnika Saraf
I am an Indian freelance journalist, ex-ACJ. I have worked with prestigious organizations in the past. My interest lies in politics, world and crime news.

World Maritime Day is being observed on September 25th this year to showcase the significance of marine security, shipping safety, and marine environment. The day is also celebrated to raise awareness about the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) work.

IMO is the specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that is responsible for the safety and security of the shipping industry. Additionally, it works for the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution caused by ships.

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The UN, via the IMO, created the day in order to celebrate the international maritime industry and its dedication and contribution towards the world’s economy, specifically in the shipping sector. Not just that, the purpose to commemorate this day is also to disseminate information about the impact of industries on the oceans and marine life and the well-being of the seafarers.

To mark this day, maritime unions and organizations conduct seminars and different events like luncheons and symposium. Schools organize activities and trips to maritime museums to observe the day.

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World Maritime Day is celebrated in many countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the day will be celebrated in the form of an online event, keeping in mind the social distancing measures.

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World Maritime Day 2020: Theme

World Maritime Day 2020 theme is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet” which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs of the United Nations. The IMO and its member states are working unwearyingly to attain the targets set by the SDG.

This day also spreads awareness about preserving water bodies from all kinds of pollution and proper management of the oceans.

The date of the event varies each year. But, it is usually celebrated in the last week of September, generally the last Thursday of the month.

Commemorating the day, IMO in a tweet said, “It’s #WorldMaritimeDay 2020 saw everyone across the globe affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this global crisis has demonstrated the importance of shipping.#SustainableShipping

UN Chief, Antonio Guterres also took to Twitter and said, “I’m concerned about the crisis facing hundreds of thousands of seafarers whose time at sea has been extended far beyond standards due to COVID-19. On World Maritime Day, I renew my appeal to designate seafarers and marine personnel ‘key workers’ and ensure safe crew changes.” 

COVID-19 and Maritime Industry:

While the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic, seafarers are at the forefront as the ships continue to transport medical supplies, food, and other basic items worldwide. The sailors are facing new challenges at the sea with every passing day. Due to the global lockdown, they are stuck on their ships and their stay has been extended.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice of the two million seafarers who serve on the world’s merchant fleet. Shipping has continued to transport more than 80% of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery – but hundreds of thousands of seafarers face a humanitarian crisis as they have been stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months. This needs to be addressed urgently, through Governments designating seafarers as essential workers and ensuring safe crew changes can take place,” United Nations’ page reads.

Shipping is considered to be the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods, facilitating commerce and creating prosperity among different nations.

In order to meet the goal of sustainable future and green development, IMO and the shipping industry are continuously working together, ensuring safe shipping.

History and Significance of World Maritime Day:

World Maritime Day was first celebrated on March 17, 1978. It marked the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force, back in 1958.

People for long believed that following international regulations could enhance maritime safety and so, various treaties have been adopted since the 19th century.

IMO, formerly known as Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) was established in 1948, after an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention establishing the organization as UN’s specialized agency.

The IMO was then designated the work of developing and maintaining a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. It focuses on areas, including shipping safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security, the efficiency of shipping etc.

Initially, the IMO had 21 member states. The number has now risen to 167 and it also has 3 associate members.

Shipping, to date, is the most reliable and lucrative method of global transportation.

On the occasion of the World Maritime Day, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet”, our theme for 2020 couldn’t be more relevant now and for years to come.”

“In the post-COVID world, much focus will be directed at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all UN Member States in 2015,” he added.

Here are some quotes to honor sailors from all around the world. (Courtesy: LatestLY)

“A Ship Without Marines Is Like a Garment Without Buttons.”  -Adm. David Dixon Porter

“A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skilled Sailor.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“I Must Be a Mermaid, Rango. I Have No Fear of Depths and a Great Fear of Shallow Living.” – Anais Nin

“Sailors, with their built-in sense of order, service, and discipline, should really be running the world” – Nicholas Monsarrat

“I Am Convinced That There Is No Smarter, Handier, or More Adaptable Body of Troops in the World.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“Every Marine Is, First and Foremost, a Rifleman. All Other Conditions Are Secondary.” -Gen. A. M. Gray


  • Avnika Saraf

    I am an Indian freelance journalist, ex-ACJ. I have worked with prestigious organizations in the past. My interest lies in politics, world and crime news.

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